Redwood Coast Offshore Wind

Offshore Wind Energy for Humboldt County

principle power offshore wind turbine

Humboldt County’s expansive coastline is home to one of the greatest offshore wind resources in the nation. Turbines spinning off the North Coast could potentially produce more than 150% of the state’s current demand for electricity with renewable, carbon-free power. Humboldt County has been featured in local, national, and international news since 2018 as a potentially ideal location for offshore wind energy generation.

Why Offshore Wind?

  • The North Coast has world-class offshore wind resources.
  • Floating turbine technology is now available to unlock its potential on the Pacific Coast.
  • Offshore wind diversifies the renewable energy portfolio needed to cut California’s greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Humboldt Bay is well suited to serve as a hub for a broader West Coast offshore wind industry.

How it Works

two floating wind turbines connected by morringlines which can be seen underwater
diagram of turbines to shore

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is the federal agency responsible for energy project leasing in federal waters. To learn more about the history of offshore wind, how it works, and the steps BOEM takes to work with many stakeholders when planning offshore wind development, watch BOEM’s “Renewable Energy Whiteboard” video.

A Timeline of Offshore Wind on the Redwood Coast

2018 – Redwood Coast Offshore Wind

The Redwood Coast Offshore Wind Project was a commercial-scale project proposed by RCEA and a consortium of developers.

In 2018, RCEA issued a Request for Qualifications for development partners, through which RCEA’s Board of Directors selected a consortium of companies to work with to pursue local offshore wind energy development. The consortium later formed a project company, Redwood Coast Offshore Wind LLC (ROW), in which RCEA was a partner.

RCEA and the consortium submitted an unsolicited lease application to BOEM for the Redwood Coast Offshore Wind project about 20-30 miles off the coast of Humboldt County. Although the lease application was not accepted, the lease area proposed by RCEA was subsequently absorbed into the Humboldt Wind Energy Area (WEA), which was ultimately leased through a BOEM auction in December 2022.

To learn more about the history of offshore wind, how it works, and the steps BOEM takes to work with many stakeholders when planning offshore wind development, watch BOEM’s “Renewable Energy Whiteboard” video.

2021 – Biden-Harris agreement to advance Offshore Wind

In May 2021, the Biden-Harris Administration announced an agreement to advance areas for offshore wind off the northern (Humboldt County) and central coasts of California. This significant milestone was part of the Biden-Harris administration’s goal to create thousands of jobs through the deployment of 30 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind nationally by 2030. The environmental assessment and lease auction processes are being managed by BOEM.

2022 – BOEM Lease Auction and Provisional Awards

On December 6, 2022, BOEM held a lease auction for two parcels within the Humboldt Wind Energy Area, as well as three parcels off the Central Coast near Morro Bay. The two companies that were awarded Humboldt WEA leases were RWE Offshore Wind Holdings LLC, a subsidiary of RWE Renewables and California North Floating LLC, a subsidiary of Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners. While the ROW was proposing to generate 100-150 MW to support Humboldt County’s electricity needs, the current proposals for the Humboldt WEA are for upwards of 1 GW of generation capacity—ten times the lower end of the ROW project capacity.


2023 – Offshore Wind Leasing Process Continues


Once leases have been awarded and executed, developers will meet and plan in advance of carrying out area surveys and site assessments.

Site Assessment

Environmental and cultural impact analysis must be performed, as well as construction and operations planning. BOEM will conduct in-depth environmental review once they have received submission of site assessment and construction and operations plans from developers.

Construction & Operations

Construction and fabrication begin after all reviews and analysis completed. Grid interconnection and full operation will happen after construction is finished.

RCEA Stakeholder Engagement

Throughout the process of exploring the potential of developing offshore wind resources in Humboldt, RCEA has been engaging with stakeholders in our community, including Tribes, environmental groups, local agencies and fisherman. The North Coast region is home to a commercial fishing industry that provides sustainably-caught seafood to our community and many others.  For many generations these commercial fisheries have provided a livelihood for local fishermen and their families, and continue to be a key element of our region’s economy and local culture.

RCEA continues to recognize that a viable commercial fishing industry is integral to the economy and culture of the North Coast, and that the development of offshore wind energy will permanently impact the commercial fishing industry economically and culturally. We affirm that such development should be pursued in a manner that minimizes and mitigates impacts to fishing so that both endeavors can sustainably coexist for the benefit of our community.

During the time that the ROW consortium was actively pursuing floating offshore wind resource development in Humboldt, we established an MOU with the Humboldt Fishermen’s Marketing Association, agreeing to cooperate and work together in good faith to ensure that the development proceeded in a way that would effectively identify, avoid, minimize, and mitigate impacts to the commercial fishing industry to the greatest extent possible. RCEA remains committed to working together with our community members to ensure that our local community has a voice in the development of local resources.

The ROW developed and entered into an MOU with the Humboldt Bay Harbor Recreation & Conservation District to cooperate on developing the infrastructure necessary for offshore wind in a way that mitigated or minimized impacts to current Port of Humboldt Bay users, existing waterfront businesses, local stakeholders, and the environment. The Port of Humboldt Bay is the only deep-water port in Northern California, and is a vital resource for local business, tourism, and to the regional ecosystem. Ensuring that future infrastructure development protects this resource and its functions is vital to sustainability and equity in Humboldt County.

Going into the Future

As Humboldt County’s offshore wind energy future unfolds, RCEA will continue to work with the BOEM lease holders, state and federal agencies, and local stakeholders to advocate for our community’s concerns and priorities in the development of any prospective projects off our coastline.

Additional Information and Resources

News Articles

Does RCEA’s long-term contract for 100 MW of solar energy from the Sandrini Sol 1 project preclude RCEA contracting for offshore wind when that becomes available?

RCEA’s goal is to have a diversified power mix, and this long-term solar power purchase agreement is an ideal complement to offshore wind in a number of ways. The solar contract’s price per unit of energy is lower than we expect offshore wind to cost, but offshore wind’s time-of-day production better matches our customer energy demand throughout the day. In addition, the location of the solar project allows it to avoid the transmission access challenge that large-scale renewable energy generation sited in Humboldt County faces, due to our remoteness from the state’s main transmission corridors.

The Sandrini contract helps us meet our near-term SB350 compliance targets, which requires us to secure long-term renewable portfolio standard contracts, and it does so in a very cost-effective way. We could not have waited for offshore wind for this purpose, given the long development timeline. About half of RCEA’s portfolio remains open for long-term contracts.

Interviews, Webinars, and Audio

  • Humboldt tour of the Operating Engineers Local 3 Joint Apprenticeship and Training Center (JATC).
  • California Coastal Commission: Informational Briefing and Public Comment on Offshore Wind. Informational briefing and public comment on Offshore Wind excerpted from a virtual meeting of the California Coastal Commission on September 9, 2021.
  • Webinar series: Exploring the Feasibility of Offshore Wind Energy for the CA North Coast. The Schatz Center hosted a series of five webinar workshops on the feasibility of offshore wind energy development on California’s north coast. In each webinar, they shared topical findings from their recently conducted studies. After each presentation, there was a moderated panel discussion. Webinar participants were then invited to share their insights, questions, and perspectives. September and October 2020.
  • Webinar: Potential Effects of Offshore Renewable Energy: Knowledge and Resources – Recorded April 15, 2020. Hosted by Pacific Ocean Energy Trust with a presentation by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. April 2020
  • Interview: Astrid Skarheim Onsum, SVP, Head of Wind, Aker Solutions. Her view on the path ahead and the growing role and promising future of ‘floating wind.’ April 2019.
  • Explore North Coast and the Humboldt Bay Aquatic Center  – Explore North Coast and the Humboldt Bay Aquatic Center will present a talk in their lecture series Monday featuring Matthew Marshall, executive director of Redwood Coast Energy Authority. His presentation will focus on the potential of an offshore wind energy project. The lecture is scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Humboldt Bay Aquatic Center, 921, Waterfront Drive. Admission is free. September 10, 2018.
  • KHSU Thursday Night Talk – TNT explored the Redwood Coast Energy Authority’s proposal to put a floating offshore wind farm off Humboldt’s coast. The proposal, which would place floating wind turbines ~20-24 miles offcoast, would generate enough power to light all of Humboldt. Guests Lori Biodini of the Redwood Coast Energy Authority and Jen Kalt of Humboldt Baykeeper discussed the proposal and potential environmental impacts, both positive and negative, with host Tom Wheeler. July 2018.
  • Pacific Ocean Energy Trust (POET) – Marine Renewable Energy Environmental Regulatory Workshop Report: Moving to Better Information and Risk Retirement
  • Jefferson Public Exchange  – “North Coast Eyes Offshore Wind Farm,” interview with Lori Biondini of RCEA, Jason Busch of the Pacific Ocean Energy Trust, and Geoffrey Riley. April 24, 2018.
  • California Energy Commission – Webinar on Offshore Renewable Energy (audio recording). March 12, 2018.
  • KHSU EcoNews Report – Interview with Matthew Marshall and Jen Kalt. February 22, 2018.
  • Sustainable Futures Speaker Series – “Do Wind Turbines Make Good Neighbors?” Founder’s Hall 118, at Humboldt State University. Presentation by Joseph Rand, Research Affiliate, Electricity Markets & Policy Group at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. Video archive will be available soon from the HSU Library. February 22, 2018.


Senator McGuire hosted a Joint Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture an offshore wind energy hearing on May 3, 2019 at the Humboldt Bay Aquatic Center in Eureka.

  • California’s Fisheries and Wildlife – Can they co-exist with Offshore Wind Energy Development?
  •  Access Humboldt Channel 11

Technical Reports

Online Resources

  • National Renewable Energy Lab’s United States Annual Average Wind Speeds
  • Federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. Responsible for issuing leases for offshore wind energy projects in federal waters, the mission of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is to manage development of U.S. Outer Continental Shelf energy and mineral resources in an environmentally and economically responsible way.
  • California Offshore Wind Energy Gateway. A joint project of BOEM, the CA Public Utilities Commission, and the CA Energy Commission, the Offshore Renewable Wind Energy Gateway assembles geospatial information on ocean wind resources, ecological and natural resources, ocean commercial and recreational uses and community values. This information will help identify areas off California that are potentially suitable for wind energy generation.
  • CStories Beta Tool from Integral Consulting: A project in development by Integral Consulting and H.T. Harvey & Associates, providing digital tools to participate in marine renewable energy planning and development. Features: computer-generated chat response, infographics, news, and more.

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Eureka, CA 95501

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